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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Houston METRO Board of Directors
by Garrett Bryce w/photo courtesy METRO
Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Metropolitan Transit Authority Board of Directors today voted unanimously to approve an interlocal agreement with the City of Houston and Texas Southern University for an autonomous vehicle university circulator project.

Representatives from Texas Southern University and the City of Houston addressed the board in support of the project.

Dr. Carol Lewis, a professor in transportation and urban transportation issues and a former director of planning at METRO, opened remarks discussing the planned automated vehicle at the “Tiger Trail” at the university. She noted the university's master program in transportation planning and management.

“Our graduates are here at METRO, at TxDOT, the city, H-GAC, consultants that you work with, as well as aviation, ports and freight areas,” Lewis said. Listen (11:36)

Lewis said the project would move people from one end of the campus to the other.

“Not only does it allow us to be look at the automated vehicle in sort of an ideal environment, that's got lots of pedestrians, a few sort of electrical carts that operate, but then offers the opportunity to extend it over to the light rail station on Scott,” Lewis said.

Maureen Crocker, special advisor to Mayor Sylvester Turner on transportation, noted the project's importance.

“There are several cities across the country trying to do these types of transit pilots in partnership with transit agencies to determine how to best incorporate all the new technologies that are here to address congestion issues and mobility issues,” Crocker said. “So, this is important. The city is committed to it. Public Works is committed to it. It's a first step, and we've got to remain flexible and allow these things to evolve to see what works best.”

Board Member Christof Spieler asked for a briefing on future phases of the project.

“We're looking forward to that discussion, to make sure that this isn't just a one time pilot, but rather something that is really the beginning of an exploration of what's possible.” Listen (1:53)

The board voted to approve an interlocal agreement with the City of Houston for potential pilot demonstrations of autonomous vehicle technology for transit use.

The board voted to approve an updated interlocal agreement with the Uptown Development Authority, Harris County Improvement District No. 1, and the City of Houston for the Uptown Bus Rapid Transit Project.

The board voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Minneapolis Metropolitan Council for the option to purchase 14 light rail vehicles on their rolling stock procurement contract with Siemens Transportation Systems, Inc.

The board did not hold an executive session, as there were no items to be considered in closed session.

All action items were approved. All votes were unanimous with Lisa Castaneda absent. Agenda

During the meeting, Senior Director of System Planning and Development Clint Harbert gave a presentation regarding METRO's coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation concerning the North Houston Highway Improvement Project. Listen (26:25)

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